Why does an edtech teacher visit the largest consumer electronics show on earth?
Each winter I look forward to attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as part of my job as an elementary technology teacher and edtech consultant. More for the latter I suppose.
At CES each year I get a chance to glance into the crystal ball of technology. You see, often times when I am working with school districts on their technology plans I will get asked about my opinions of where technology is headed. A fair question when you’re a district about to spend millions of dollars on technology. CES allows me to see how things are trending in technology. For example a few years ago 3D was all the rage, but at CES I got to play with 3D technology and I couldn’t see it working in homes, let alone schools. So I steered districts away from it, and sure enough, 3D for homes and schools at least, is D.O.A.
Other technologies that I have discovered at CES like tablet computers as teleprompters, I used at my own school. There is something about being able to play with technology that helps me decide if it will work in schools or not. Seeing, and touching, really is believing when it comes to technology.
School technology is a moving target so it is important to get as much intelligence as you can, so you can get the biggest bang for your edtech buck. I think we’ve all been burned, whether at home or at school, when we’ve purchased a new piece of technology one day only to have is become obsolete the next. I work hard to prevent this as much as possible and attending CES helps.
But CES is massive, the show covers the equivalent of 32 football fields, so there is no way I can see it all in the few days that I am there. So I make a plan of which technologies I need to check out. This year I am focused on mobile technologies.
So here I go, off to Las Vegas with 160,000 other geeks to check out the coolest gadgets on earth, all in hopes of seeing where the edtech ball will be instead of where it is right now.
#edtech #edchat #elemchat
The following are what I believe are the rights of all student to have with regards to using technology as an educational tool, written as a student to their teacher:
- I have the right to use my own technology at school. I should not be forced to leave my new technology at home to use (in most cases) out-of-date school technology. If I can afford it, let me use it — you don’t need to buy me one. If I cannot afford it, please help me get one — I don’t mind working for it.
- I have the right to access the school’s WiFi. Stop blaming bandwidth, security or whatever else — if I can get on WiFi at McDonalds, I think that I should be able to get online at school.
- I have the right to submit digital artifacts that prove my understanding of a subject, regardless of whether or not my teacher knows what they are. Just because you have never heard of Prezi, Voki, or Glogster, doesn’t mean that I should not be able to use these tools to prove to you that I understand what you are teaching me.
- I have the right to cite Wikipedia as one of the sources that I use to research a subject. Just because you believe the hype that Wikipedia is full of incorrect information, doesn’t mean that it is true — besides we all use it anyways (including you). I am smart enough to verify what I find online to be the truth.
- I have the right to access social media at school. It is where we all live, it is how we communicate — we do not use email, or call each other. We use Facebook, Twitter and texting to talk to each other. Teachers and schools should take advantage of this and post announcements and assignments using social media — you will get better results.
- I have the right to be taught by teachers who know how to manage the use technology in their classrooms. These teachers know when to use technology and when to put it away. They understand that I need to be taught how to balance my life between the online and offline worlds. They do not throw the techno-baby out with the bath water.
- I have the right to be taught by teachers who teach me and demand that I use 21st Century Skills. Someday I am going to need a job — please help me be employable.
- I have the right to be assessed with technology. I love the instant feedback of testing done technology. I live in a world of instant feedback, so to find out a couple of weeks later that I didn’t understand your lesson, drive me crazy. If you were a video game, no one would play you — your feedback is too slow.
- I have the right to be protected from technology. I don’t want to be cyberbullied, hurt, scared or find crud online that I would rather not find. Please help me use technology responsibly and safely. Please stay up-to-date with this kind of information, and teach me to make good choices. I am not you and we don’t see eye to eye about what to put online, but help me to meet you in the middle.
- I have the right to be taught by teachers that know their trade. They are passionate about what they do and embrace the use of technology to help me learn. They attend trainings and practice what they learn. They are not afraid to ask for my help; they might know more than me about the Civil War, but I know Glogster like nobody’s business.
This is a work in progress, please comment below on what to add or change.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke ElementaryRead More
This one is not so much a myth, but rather an exaggeration. Yes, there is danger anytime a young student is online. However, the web is just so different than it was a few years ago when most of our online “rules” were thought of. We made rules like “never put anything online” before sites like Facebook even existed. The reality is that everything is online, privacy is being redefined, and the thought of our students not learning how to responsibly post content online has turned out to be the scariest part of all.
The story of the “Scary Online Man.”
So the old Internet Safety story goes something like this: There is a bad man who wants to nab an unsuspecting young student. He goes online and within minutes he knows everything about him, just from putting together pieces from his online profile. He know’s his soccer team’s name — so then he looks up their schedule on another website, etc. After 20 minutes, the story goes, he now knows everything and the next thing we know the boy has been taken. I know this story — because I used to tell it. Along with every other tech teacher for the past 10 years. I would tell the story to scare kids and to let them know how dangerous the Internet is and to never post anything online. Then along came Web 2.0 (the read/write web) and cell phones for every kid.
If I was to tell this story today — my students would laugh. Here I am telling them to never post anything online and in reality they had posted 15 things just that morning before being dropped off for school.
So what are we to do?
Teach your students to verify everything. Teach them that people lie online all the time. Teach them that they can be strong and that to run everything by a trusted adult. If the guy from the above story was to show up at your student’s soccer game and tell him that his mom Sharron (the name that he got from his evil research) wanted him to go with him to the hospital because she had been hurt. Your student should just whip out their cell phone and verify the info.
Our students are getting smart about this. They know that nothing about them is private, and that just because someone claims to know everything about you — it does not mean they know you. And now that most students have their own cell phone, they can call mom or dad anytime that something doesn’t seem right.
Cyber-bullies Vs Pedophiles
Statistics prove that the real problem facing our children online is not the pedophiles (although this should never be minimized) but rather the cyber-bullies — kids that say really mean things about other kids online. Some reports put this number at 80% of all students will be a victim of some type of cyber-bulling by the time they leave high school. But yet most schools are still spending 90% of their Internet Safety lessons on protecting our kids from pedophiles. We need to find a balance.
Our students should be taught how to deal with cyber-bullies. How to report them and how your school and the police deal with these types of problems. Students should be taught how to be responsible themselves and how to behave properly online. They should know that the things we say online can stay with us for a lifetime. They need to know who to turn to when something goes wrong.
FACT — Our young students are going to post content online, with or without us, so isn’t it is up to use to teach them how to do it correctly and safely?Read More
I have been hearing the ideas about building your own PLN for the past year and even though I have most of the parts already in place, I think that it is high time for me to get serious about doing it up right.
Step 1: Understand exactly what a PLN is.
A PLN or Personal Learning Network is really a collection of online and offline resources that you will use on a usual basis to make you better at whatever you do. Since I am a tech teacher, my PLN will be resources that will make me a better tech teacher.
Step 2: Start with Twitter.
I don’t know why I started with Twitter, but to me making room in my hectic schedule to read 140 characters is a lot easier that finding time to read a book on edtech.
I have had a twitter account for years, but if you don’t have one, or you have no idea what twitter is, a good place to start is the video below. When I searched Atomic Learning I found 57 video tutorials about Twitter — so you have no excuse not to set up a Twitter account.
Once you have Twitter you now need some people to follow. After using the search function for edtech and school technology to find some people to follow, I clicked the follow link on the people I liked and thought could help build my PLN. If you want to see who I am following, just click the link below.
The next thing I did was to set up some twitter searches for the hashtags (#) that people from my list where using as a sort of keyword for subjects that might help me as well. I found these hashtags to follow on Twitter.
Now I can follow Tweats about these subjects for my PLN without following individual people. Following these hashtags really gives me a “feel” for what is happening in the world of edtech — this keeps me up-to-date. I use a program called TweetDeck to keep it all straight on my laptop. For example, right now while writing this blog post; Twitter is buzzing about tablet computers and teaching — cool!
Already now that I am a little more organized, I feel like my PLN is starting to look better. The last thing I did was to schedule a little time three times a week to check in on Twitter and see what is happening. I feel smarter already.
Check out Part 2 in a few days.
- Twitter as PLN (twowritingteachers.wordpress.com)
- My Personal Learning Network is the most awesomest thing ever!! (elearnspace.org)
- Developing and Deepening your PLN with Twitter – Hashtags For Educators (newtrierlibrary.blogspot.com)
- The Power of the PLN – Getting Started (List 1) (citrushightechnology.com)
Young students can’t podcast.
Young students can’t make movies.
etc. etc. etc.
The truth is they can.
But does this mean that we throw the idea of doing age-appropriate lessons out the window? No, of course not. We do not ask a second grader to blog the same way that we would ask a high school senior, but they both can blog.
When I first started to do movie making with my fourth and fifth grade students, many of my colleagues thought I was crazy. And perhaps I was, but I at least wanted to give it a try. So I started with the idea of how could I make movie making age-appropriate for my young students? And how could I do it with just a few pieces of inexpensive equipment? Since I knew nothing about movie making, I studied the Video Storytelling Guide on Atomic Learning. Now I knew about shots, audio, and filmmaking.
The next thing I did was to sit down with the students to get the outline for the movie. The students had been studying dramatic writing so they knew all about how to tell a good story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Since we knew the limitation of our equipment we decided on a few rules:
1) It had to be shot in the school. We had no money to go somewhere else to shoot.
2) Any dialogue would have to be done using a close-up shot so that our audio would be good.
3) All the shots would have to be simple, static shots. We would avoid panning or tilting the camera.
Soon we had our movie outline and script, so we were now able to start shooting. We broke the script down into a shot list and from there we started to shoot. One of the funny things that we didn’t see coming was that the actors had to remember to where the same clothes every Wednesday so that the shots would match.
Both the students and myself were amazed at how well the movie turned out.
Dude! Where’s my pencil? http://www.youtube.com/user/bethkeelementary#p/u/0/9TEBqs7kX2k